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'I remember our last win here 20 years ago. It was great to win tonight'

Kerry crowned Munster U21 champions with one-sided win over disappointing Cork.

Champions: Sean O’Shea celebrates with Conor Geaney at the final whistle.
Champions: Sean O’Shea celebrates with Conor Geaney at the final whistle.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

JACK O’CONNOR BELIEVES that fierce competition for places is driving his Kerry U21s to reach new heights.

A dominant Kingdom side were crowned EirGrid Munster U21 football champions last night after handing neighbours Cork a 16-point walloping.

Remarkably it was Kerry’s first win in Páirc Uí Rinn at the grade for 20 years.

“This is a big win for us tonight,” a delighted O’Connor said afterwards. “We haven’t won up here for a long time.

“I remember up in that upper goal, David Moloney saved a penalty from Philip Clifford to win the last game for us in 1997, 20 years ago, so it was great to come back and have a good victory tonight.”

Matthew O’Sullivan’s goal helped Kerry into a 1-6 to 0-3 lead at the break and O’Connor’s half-time message to his team was simple: don’t take the foot off the pedal.

His players responded in kind, kicking on to outscore their opponents by 0-7 to 0-1 in the third quarter.

“We prepared very well over the last few months,” O’Connor said. “We expected a huge challenge from Cork. On the night it didn’t materialise but I think our fellas played very well.

“We really set the tone by stopping Cork coming out of their own defence, time and again turned them over. I think the tackling and work rate by our players really was the cornerstone of the victory.”

He added: “Cork were always dangerous, we had to keep tabs on them.

“Look, we hit a good night tonight, lads, Cork hit a poor night. That was the key to it.

“We said at half-time, we’d won the first half by six points, we go hell for leather in the second half. It was important we got a good start because that killed the game after 10 minutes.”

An All-Ireland semi-final against either Galway or Sligo now awaits, with O’Connor ready for the next challenge, encouraged by the attitude and performance of his young squad.

“We were under a bit of pressure. Everybody’s talking up this team but you still have to go out and perform, but our attitude was spot on.

“We got a nice tough game from Clare at home. That ironed out any issues we had. I thought our tackling was top class tonight.

“The bottom line is fellas have to go out and perform because they know that someone else will get the jersey if they’re not performing. I think it’s the fear of losing the jersey that drives fellas on more than anything else.”

– Reporting by Fintan O’Toole

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5 talking points after dominant Kerry triumph in Munster U21 final against Cork

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